Where are the queer POC women tech leaders?

I'm a third generation Asian American to liberal-enough parents that at least accepted my sexuality when I came out and let me enjoy the arts to some extent. However, most of the people I was surrounded by were conservative and, for a long time, were in disbelief that I was *gasp* a lesbian. It was tough being my true self: I sometimes felt outcasted from groups I used to be part of since I no longer fit the norm.

As I started my career after during undergrad, I felt like I had to hide this essential part of my identity. Everyone else talked about their heteronormative relationship woes, but couldn't I talk about my very queer relationships? Perhaps it's my own worries that limited me from being my true, authentic self, and not toxic cultures that only truly accepted a certain type of person to thrive at work.

I'm sure my story resonates with others who are, or have previously, went through similar experiences through adulthood. And hopefully prove that not all people in tech are bros.

In 2020, FastCo introduced Queer 50: a list of LGBTQ women and nonbinary innovators in business and tech. Very exciting to see, and I applaud FastCo for providing more visibility and awareness to the general tech public about the queer folks running the show.

My question for queer POC women tech leaders: Do you believe your identity at a disadvantage in your career? How did you get past all that and find people who helped lift you up?

Topic exploration

The idea of “being your authentic self” in tech companies only apply if you’re a white cis-male. I loved the idea of joining a team that had “authenticity” as one of their core values on posters all over the walls at the typical tech office. However, when I entered the meeting room being the only female (and queer) Asian, I had a familiar unsettling feeling as I sat in the chair. Why do I have to conform to hyper masculinity and the idea of whoever speaks the most wins the discussion? Why is there no inclusion and embracing of different perspectives in these conversations? Of course, I have to interject and speak up: if I don’t, then I’d never be heard. This does backfire, though, as having a strong voice conflicting with others has led to me being pulled to the side saying I shouldn’t speak to them like that. Would they have had that exact same conversation with a guy? Companies should re-evaluate what authenticity means and why women speaking up just as boldly as men should be treated equally, not with bias or expectations of how a woman should be.

Where are the LGBTQ+ leaders in tech? Where are the LGBTQ+ leaders in tech? Representation matters. Nearly 25% of LGBTQ+ workers hide their identity at work and worry that they’d be treated differently if they came out. The worry alone can cause more health issues and work-related complaints due to increased levels of stress and anxiety. Remember the first topic about being your authentic self? Having diversity allows for different perspectives and embracing these differences. For consumers, there are plenty of insights we’ve yet to examine at how tech is integrated into these communities, compared to the heteronormative landscape. As for employees—you know, the ones who help make a business successful—they can feel like they belong and feel comfortable being who they are. LGBTQ+ leaders should be our advocates, our networks, our way to be out and proud.

Culture Lens

I’ll be writing about culture through the lens of an individual contributor looking for an inclusive tech company culture because and I’m an Asian-American gender nonconfirming lesbian--in other words, I’m marginalized. More representation of people like myself in leadership roles are needed, especially in tech. These leaders should be authentic, motivational, and inspirational to make positive changes to the organization they represent, the communities they represent, and inspire other organizations for change, too.


  1. Have future employers view me as a well-balanced UX leader who has a strong voice in design strategy
    • Add 2 strong student projects to my portfolio that show design strategy thinking that complements my UX knowledge
    • Update my personal brand as UX leader by incorporating learnings about organizational culture, values & mission.
  2. Build professional network with cohort to help each other grow and succeed in their careers
    • Spend 5 hours a month connecting with classmates outside the classroom/group projects
    • Learn 2 new skills from classmates outside my profession/expertise
  3. Balance work-school-life to maintain my own wellbeing
    • Manage time better by writing out my schedule each week and planning ahead
    • Set expectations with manager and classmates about workload to manage priorities
    • Spend at least 6 hours each week to exercise/fitness